If you’re any kind of Coldplay fan then you’ve witnessed Chris Martin’s continual twist between super-excited front-man and self-deprecating Britishness is dependably played out at its finest. Mat Whitecross‘s documentary A Head Full of Dreams begins with a voice-over of Chris telling his long-term friend and filmmaker that he trusts in his work, and what he wants to create to celebrate 20 years of the band, but Chris can’t watch it and advises that he doesn’t start with one of those shots that follows the band onto the stage. So what does the opening sequence do? Yeah, you guessed it… but it’s done with the real, honest humour that’s come to define Coldplay and the deep-hearted fan base that follows their every move.
We kick off at their Sao Paulo show and song A Head Full of Dreams and it’s an epic feeling, even watching on-screen I got the same goosebumps I get from being there, which is only 4 times now (i.e. I’d love more), and that feeling disappears at any of their gigs. But what about the documentary in this instance, does it reflect the band and their progression, does it pull you into the essence of all the enthusiasm? Absolutely.
A Head Full of Dreams charts the band from the beginning because director Mat Whitecross was there, having known the four friends before their first gig at University. The key to Coldplay’s success can’t really be defined in a humble second but it becomes clear over the 1 hour 44 minutes that so many moments fell into place at the right time, whether that be specific friendships or just the sheer motivation Chris Martin brought to the growth of the band isn’t fixed but one thing is: They all played a part in getting them to now.
Like any respectable documentary, this isn’t just about charting their rise to one of the biggest bands in modern music history, it’s also the story of family and that sentiment resides throughout. There are peaks and troughs, because as previously mentioned the boys were friends before becoming a band, but these little elements and those sibling-like connections are significant. Why? Because it enables honesty with each other, one you don’t always get with bands and one that usually only exists in the closest family and friends.
Whitecross’s film also sensibly, yet subtly, offers up an insight into the struggle that hit them around the release of X&Y and this is mainly because they weren’t quite the family they were before that. At that point, they had the short-term loss of Phil Harvey (Coldplay‘s secret fifth member) and Chris’s loss of certainty after his break-up with Gwyneth and the press-hounding that followed. I always felt that Ghost Stories was somewhat a cathartic record, and it seems it was unquestionably was when you observe full context.
A Head Full of Dreams is an appropriate reminder that Coldplay have never been a manufactured band, they’re home-grown and hard-working from the start. The difference is they had the time to change, mould and take the risks and actually did. You don’t get an album progression from Parachutes to A Rush of Blood to the Head by luck or accident. That comes down to sheer talent. They wanted to push the boundaries they’d created and see where it took them, whatever the risk and all great bands – like film-makers – should take those leaps. I mean, what’s the point in being creative if you can’t try to reach beyond yourself or, better still, in the words of David Bowie: “If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
Overall, whether you’re a fan of Coldplay or still unsure, then you’re going to learn a whole lot more about them and I found an even profounder admiration for their journey in just 20 years. It’s also full of positive moments though, you’ll see the camaraderie between Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland and Will Champion but you’ll also realise how many people they’ve kept with them from the very first gigs and that type of union is inspiring. As Martin says, ‘everyone’s in the band’ and it really feels like we all are, it’s a family and I’m excited about what comes next…
Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams is streaming now on Amazon Prime – Plus check our Debs Wild ‘Celebration’ book of the band right here.
Want more? Click the image below: